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Time for another router related purchase for the garage/shop. Been wanting to get into doing dovetail joinery and not sure which way to go here. I was sold on the Incra LS25 and wonder fence setup until I got to reading about the Leigh 4DR Pro. Will the Incra do dovetails as well as the Leigh? Versatility issues with either? Which would those more knowledgeable than I recommend? Thanks in advance, advice is certainly appreciated.
 

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I'm pro Leigh...
the D4R is one sweet versatile jig... and Leigh CS is outstanding...
as for ease of use.. the manual is superbly written...
bit of learning curve and that the sky isn't the limit...

there are volumes written here D4R...
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+1 for the Leigh jigs. I have the D4R, which is my 4th (and final) way of cutting dovetails. I tried several other dovetail jigs before getting the D4R, but was never happy with the results
that I got from them. Now that I have a D4R, I have no need to look further. I am very happy with the results that I get from this Leigh jig.

Having a jig that you set up once to cut both the pins and tails, makes a huge difference because they must match "perfectly". The D4R does this exceptionally well, yet lets you create randomly spaced dovetails that look hand cut, and once you have the jig set up, you can quickly rout the same pattern on as many parts as you want.

I also have their FMT Pro jig for mortise and tenon work. It also lets you make perfect fitting M&T joints with one set up to do both the mortise and tenon. Leigh CS is the best you will find anywhere, and their manuals are the best as well.

Incra jigs will do dovetails, but they do not have the versatility to easily make random width spacing. You have to position the fence to specific guide marks on a guide strip for each pin and tail cut and I haven't seen any of their guide strips that allow doing any random positioning, although you could maybe create your own guide strips to do this. A PC program that was created by one of our members (furboo ?) may be able to help you do this but I have no experience with it.

Go to the Leigh jig website www.leighjigs.com and watch the videos on their dovetail jigs. Their manuals are also available for download, so get a copy of the D4R manual and read it. I think you will quickly realize how well their manuals are written. Yes, cutting dovetails is complicated, but their manual will have you making a near perfect dovetail joint on your first try.

Charley
 

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Dale, there are other options as well. Lots of jigs to chose from and they all work; each has its own merits. The Katie jig has always been popular with forum members; the simple jigs like the one from Shop Fox work for many members and if you are after the ultimate in flexibility in making dovetails the Woodrat is amazing. All these jigs have a learning curve so figure on practicing a lot before attempting a project on expensive wood. It really comes down to what you are most comfortable with.
 

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I have and really like the Katie Jig. There is a video on its use that is wonderfully clear and detailed. But it is not as wide as Leigh. No way you can go wrong with the Leigh.
 

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I see none of the regulars here talked about the Incra. I have the Leigh. If I had done my research better I would have bought the Incra. There is nothing wrong with Leigh they make a great product. If you want to do just dovetails and box joints buy the Leigh. If you want a precision fence system that can be used to make all kinds of joints then buy the INCRA.
 

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I see none of the regulars here talked about the Incra. I have the Leigh. If I had done my research better I would have bought the Incra. There is nothing wrong with Leigh they make a great product. If you want to do just dovetails and box joints buy the Leigh. If you want a precision fence system that can be used to make all kinds of joints then buy the INCRA.
I like my Incra, but not having used the Leigh--I have no basis for comparison. I have done some wider spacing by simply figuring out where to add cuts on one board and skip on the other. When I do that, I use a scrap of acrylic and dry erase marker, rough out what I want, trace the inverse onto another piece of acrylic, overlay them on the printed version in the book and note the cuts I need to make/not make. Probably an easier way to do it, but that works for me. I've only done it a few times, but the result was fine--it's probably like adding/deleting teeth on the Leigh, sort of.

Still have my Porter Cable jig--once I started marking bit depth to a scribed line on my stock, that got easier to work with. I should part with it, but I keep thinking that once I do i'll find a need to have it!! Between those 2--I definitely like the Incra better.

I do have Incra LS with Wonder Fence on 2 router tables, and a TS-LS on my table saw. All bought used or "damaged" over 5 years or so--probably half funded by buying/selling some tools. (for sure, I still have spent WAY more than I ever thought I would for this hobby, but not much more than a high-end set of golf clubs!! That's my story, and i'm sticking to it)
earl
 

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Pretty much mirror Earl's remarks about the Incra and not having experience with the Liegh. I suspect that anything else, it's a matter of prefercne and experience. I am very impressed with the Incra set up but probably would sing praises to the Leigh if I had started with it instead of the Incra.

I'm sure that this all adds to your confusion as to which way to go, so I'm sure that we have been of much help in your making your decision.

Jerry
 

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Incra jigs will do dovetails, but they do not have the versatility to easily make random width spacing. You have to position the fence to specific guide marks on a guide strip for each pin and tail cut and I haven't seen any of their guide strips that allow doing any random positioning, although you could maybe create your own guide strips to do this. A PC program that was created by one of our members (furboo ?) may be able to help you do this but I have no experience with it.
It runs on both Windoze and Mac (and should run on Linux, too):

pyRouterJig · A woodworking layout tool for creating box and dovetail joints

I have the original Leigh and the Incra. For just dovetails, I'd stick with the Leigh. But realize that the Incra is more than just a box and (approximate) dovetail joint cutter. It's also a very accurate and repeatable system for positioning the router fence. The "double joints" are also a unique feature, if you're into that look.

Like any good tool, you just gotta have them all :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the good responses. Lots of food for thought. Now to decide which one I want to get first..lol.
 

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I can't answer your question because I have not done even one dovetail. Have no fear I can tell you that the guys that have answered your question are very good wood workers and you are getting good advice.
 
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Thanks for all the good responses. Lots of food for thought. Now to decide which one I want to get first..lol.
That's my kind of answer Dale!! And...despite the amount of gear I've acquired over the past 5 years or so, it's still cheaper than golf OR guitars!! (if I keep reminding myself of that...which is true...it will one day make more sense to me!!)

earl
 

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That's my kind of answer Dale!! And...despite the amount of gear I've acquired over the past 5 years or so, it's still cheaper than golf OR guitars!! (if I me!!)

earl
Earl,
I think that what you say, while true, is what we call rationalizing and thanks for reminding me about what you did. It helps me to justify my expenditure on tools over the past nine years now.

Jerry
 

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Dale I really think it comes down to how many times are you going to do dovetails and how many times will you need a very accurate fence? If dovetails is the key buy the Leigh, I have one. If it is accuracy on everything you use a fence for and occasional dovetails get the Incra.
 
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